Today we have the great Michael Jensen here to answer some questions for us. Michael is the author of The Savage Land series, and the upcoming Drowning World series. Michael is also the co-founder of AfterElton.com, which covered pop culture for gay and bisexual men, and eventually became one of the largest and most influential LGBT websites on the internet. He also created the Big Gay Fiction Giveaway, though which more than eighty M/M authors gave away tens of thousands of books to readers. Most recently, Michael created the Facebook group, This Gay Book I Loved where readers of gay genre fiction can discuss their favorite books. Please give Michael a HUGE welcome!
While re-releasing The Savage Land Series, what part of the process did you enjoy most: finding new cover art, editing, the plot changes, or something totally different?
Oh, that’s like making me pick between my favorite children. If I had any children, which I don’t. A better analogy would be making me choose between my favorite dark chocolate. Which is impossible!
But I digress.
Hmm, I didn’t actually make that many editorial changes to the book, with one exception. (A character who previously died, now lives. It’s a miracle!) And those editorial fixes I did make were usually along the lines of “Oh, man, how could I have written that awful sentence! I’m a bad, bad writer!” In case you didn’t know it, authors are subject to a great deal of self-doubt and self-flagellation.
So, no, definitely not the most enjoyable part of the process.
I’d have to say it was redoing the covers. Each book was published by a different publisher. Consequently, the books didn’t have a cohesive look and feel. I’m not a terribly visual person, so I can’t take credit for thinking up the concept for the new covers, but I do give myself credit for choosing the look from the three options the designer presented.
The cover for Man & Beast immediately leapt out at me not only for being a striking cover, but because it so captured the mood of the book: mysterious, sexy, and slightly foreboding, while also letting readers know it was historical fiction.
And Man & Monster turned out even better, IMHO. Not only is the figure of a Native American pretty unusual for a gay book cover, but I really think it’s sexy as hell. And, of course, it clearly communicates it’s the second book in the Savage Land series.
Will there ever be another Savage Land book?
I hope so! I certainly know what the plot will be fro book three. Each book in the series is a standalone and can be read by itself, so there aren’t loose threads left hanging at the end of Man & Monster. But since these are historical novels, there is definitely more history from that time that I want to dive into.
Your new series, The Drowning World, has the first book releasing in 2017. What can you tell us about A Broken Land?
A Broken Land is set in 5500 BC during the rise of the first proto-cities and tells the story of a man forced to literally cross the world (as he knows it) in order to save the man he loves. It’s definitely more of a romance novel than the Savage Land books, but it’s also a pretty rip-roaring adventure tale that takes the reader on a journey into a world they have never seen before.
Do you prefer writing during the Savage Land time period (1700s) or Drowning World time period (5500 BC)?
I’d have to say the Drowning World is more fun, if only because I get to do so much more world building than I do in the Savage Lands. With Man & Beast and Man & Monster I had a ton of research to draw on in terms of what the world was like, both in terms of what people ate and wore, as well as their religious and social beliefs.
With the Drowning World books, while there is a great deal of archeological evidence of what the physical past was like, much less is known about their societies, religious beliefs, and so forth. So I get to create entire cultures based on that research. In A Broken Land, I write about four distinct peoples in four different settings, ranging from a small village to a city of 10,000 people, the largest in the world at that time.
It was a ton of fun getting to create everything and sometimes it almost felt like I was getting to write a fantasy novel.
When will the other Drowning World books be available for purchase?
A Broken Land will be available probably some time in early fall, and if everything goes according to plan, A Treacherous Sea will be out a month later, with A Fiery Sky to follow in 2018.
Since we were discussing covers earlier, I have to say that as much fun as designing the covers for the Savage Land books were, the Drowning World covers were even more of a blast. Okay, they were also a ton of work. I went back and forth with the designers so many times trying to get them exactly right. But I have to say in the end, it was entirely worth it. I especially love A Treacherous Sea and A Fiery Sky. Honestly, they look like works of art to me!
What is the line that separates man from beast?
The year is 1797, and 24-year-old John Chapman is lost on the American frontier with winter falling fast. Near death, he stumbles upon a lone cabin, and the owner, a rugged but sexy frontiersman named Daniel McQuay, agrees to let John winter over.
John and Daniel quickly find themselves drawn to each other, the sex between them unlike anything John has ever known. But as the weeks turn into snowbound months, Daniel begins to change into someone brutish, and the line between man and beast disappears.
With the arrival of spring, John flees, eventually finding refuge in the company of a group of frontier outcasts, including a brash young settler named Palmer. But in the wilds of this savage land, love is not so easily tamed, and John soon finds himself calling upon the raging animal within him to save the man he loves.
Man & Beast, which The Advocate calls “equal parts romance novel and history lesson, heaped with sex and violence,” is the first book in the Savage Lands, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Beast is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
(Man & Beast was previously published under the title Frontiers.)
A monster stalks the ancient forests...
It’s 1799, and Cole Seavey is a trapper running from a guilty past, seeking refuge on the vast American frontier. Lost in a raging storm, he finds himself face to face with a terrifying, otherworldly creature that seems to have emerged from a nightmare.
Cole is saved from certain death by a handsome Delaware Indian named Pakim. Together they learn that the monster is the fearsome Wendigo from native legends: a creature with a heart of ice, drawn to the evil of men.
Soon the Wendigo is terrorizing the frontier — settler and Indian alike — and Cole and Pakim join together to defeat the mysterious monster. In the process, Cole finds himself falling for the strapping brave and the promise of a new life together.
Unfortunately, the legends say that the Wendigo can only be killed by another creature with a heart of ice. But how can Cole hope to defeat the monster if it means denying the love he's finally allowed himself to feel?
Man & Monster, which the Midwest Book Review calls "a spell-binding story that is half mystery and half horror," is the second book in the Savage Land, a series that celebrates the untold gay history of the American frontier. Man & Monster is for fans of Harper Fox, Jerry Cole, K.J. Charles, and Mary Renault, as well as anyone who enjoys pulse-pounding suspense and romance.
(Man & Monster was previously published under the title Firelands.)